Submitted: 03-04-2010 by Approach Owner
I wanted to get this review out before the spring purchase season to advise anyone looking for a multi-purpose kayak. About the reviewer; 5'11", 180lbs. I have been an avid paddler for 8+ years now and this is my 4th kayak (Dagger Blackwater, Perception ARC, WS Tarpon). I have owned my Approach for 3 years now and have done dozens of runs in her. Most of paddling in this kayak is in class I-III, I have never gone beyond that due to my own comfort level, not the boat.
In moderate whitewater she behaves beautifully, you can safely catch any eddy you want and can negotiate/play anywhere you feel like in the rapids. With that being said, she is truly a river runner, not a play boat. Yes, you can lean her on her side (great stability) without worry. I disagree with other reviewers on rolling, however. She pops back up with little effort, and remember, it's hard to flip this boat in the first place. This leads me to another point, the GIANT cockpit is a great idea for beginners or those who do not want to roll as wet-exiting is very simple and you won't hit your knees on the cockpit rim while exiting. So for river running safely, and with a good bit of fun, I would give her a solid 8.
Now for the flat water portion of my review. Yes, she will do flat water. VERY SLOWLY, but she will do it. I find it best to lean back, with a straight back, and paddle that way to get the bow out of the water. Due to the lack of sharp entry on the bow, it can also be a very wet ride. Any ripples in the water will make for some good splashing. Very nice on a hot day, but it just ticks me off in the winter, and there is simply no way to keep your sunglasses clear of water drops. I have nicknamed this "hull-slap" due to the sound it makes. While it is some-what annoying, it does not seem to slow me down at all. Now, if a motor boat or a windy day drives waves at more than 1', you are plowing the bow right through it, or at least cutting into the wave halfway up. With a spray skirt (I use the Seals extreme-they will make it into a 2.2 for no extra charge, you just have to wait 30 days-ish) this is no problem, but it will stop you dead in your tracks. But, I offer 2 pieces of advice about this, #1, quarter the wave or have it behind you (you can surf her to the beach!) #2, do not take this boat out into a situation where large waves will be present. Consider this boat more for moving water or protected waters. You should have no issue if you run into large waves, but you should not seek them out either with this kayak.
Now to comfort, this boat has none. The seat cushion is thin and flimsy, the back band is better than most, but is still a back band with little support for longer paddles. I have taken mine on 2 overnighters and both times my lower back paid for it. Speaking of overnighters, they are easy to do with this boat. Plenty of room in the rear hold and in front of the foot pegs. I can easily pack an overnighter with all the comforts of car-camping in her. That being said, most of my camping gear is backpacking gear, so that may be to my advantage.
Now on to fishing; she fishes like a dream. I sit on the hull behind the seat with my feet in the seat. Yes, she is that stable. Takes a minute to realize you are not going to flip, but you get used to it quickly due to the rock-solid stability. I believe I will fall off her rather than flip her. But I find that this position enables me to see farther and to have more casting and reeling room. Do not sit up there while moving!
So overall an 8. Used for moving water, light to medium WW, and calm lakes/ponds, it is a great boat. I would also highly recommend this boat to anyone with a child that is interested in paddling due to its stability and general-use appeal.